Executive Chef Eric Cimino
Luca d’Italia executive chef Eric Cimino lives to serve. While an interest in human behavior and helping others led Cimino to earn a bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University in psychology, his innate mission to make people happy found ground while working in hospitality. That same mission also lead him to Europe, and eventually Sicily, where a passion for Italian food and culture manifested into what is now Cimino’s culinary stamp—food from the soul, prepared from scratch and composed with the best seasonal offerings available in the region. “Living in Sicily, I really grew to appreciate the culture,” he says. “While I grew up in Arizona, I have a Sicilian background, and experiencing Sicily for myself not only showed me a piece of my identity, but also greatly influenced the way I cook — Sicilian cuisine is about family, community and living off the land. You make the best of what you have, and you always celebrate with good food, wine and friends.” When Cimino returned home to Tuscan, Arizona, at age 26, he began working his way up the ranks at Café Jasper, where he was reintroduced to the pleasure of creating—using his hands to manipulate dough, layering flavors to produce depth, and cooking meats tender. After two years, Cimino decided to take his culinary career to the next level and enrolled in the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California, where he was accepted and lured to wine country. “That’s where everything really took off,” he says. “That’s where I was really hooked to creating beautiful, seasonal food to pair with wine—in a region some of the country’s best wine-makers call home.” While Cimino embarked on his studies in the culinary classroom, he worked in some of Northern California’s premier kitchens, including Signorello Vineyards in Napa, The Girl and The Fig in Sonoma and now-defunct Cantinetta Piero in Yountville under chef Craig DiFonzo. Looking for a new chapter, Cimino and his fiancée moved to Denver in May of 2012. Cimino found a kitchen home at Luca d’Italia, restaurateur Frank Bonanno’s nod to Sicily. Working his way up from garde manger and perfecting the art of pasta under chef Hunter Pritchett, Cimino now showcases the Italian food Chef Bonanno grew up with—the food and the culture that won Cimino from the very beginning.